In February 2022, 17 companies with a positive social and environmental impact started raising online, including four in the green infrastructure industry.
Reducing the negative environmental consequences of building construction is essential to the mitigation of global warming. Buildings produce close to 40% of global carbon emissions. Two-thirds of their carbon emissions come from building operations, such as heating and cooling, and one-third are embodied, coming from the use of building materials such as concrete and steel.
The opportunity to improve the impact of the construction industry is here. The United States congress recently passed a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill to renovate the country’s infrastructures. This bill includes about $62 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) to develop sustainable energy solutions, which could have a direct impact on startups raising online. The DOE is supporting the development of Hempitecture, a startup offering carbon capture and more effective house insulation thanks to the use of hemp. Hempitecture – a KingsCrowd Neutral Deal – is now raising on Wefunder.
The infrastructure bill includes close to $200 billion in climate-related investments. On top of energy, these investments target electric vehicles, clean drinking water, and climate resilience projects. Carbon capture and waste management, other opportunities targeted by construction startups raising online this month, are also part of the bill. About $3.5 billion is dedicated to carbon removal testing, and $350 million will go to plastic waste recycling. However, these last investments are limited compared to what is needed to fight climate change. Indeed, The United Nations estimated that $2.4 trillion would be needed every year to reform energy systems alone and limit temperature rise. Ultimately, with or without government support, American founders keep innovating and developing solutions to fight climate change. As investors, we have the opportunity to support these solutions and democratically build the world we want to live in.
Mineral insulation solutions can be toxic both for people and the environment. In countries such as Canada and France, hemp is used as a green insulator alternative. It is more durable, regulates house humidity, and captures carbon. Hempitecture is the US leader in hemp insulation panel distribution, and it is building the first US manufacturing facility for hemp panels. Hempitecture has more than 250 customers and has generated more than $1 million in total revenue. The company has federal partnerships with the US Department of Energy and the Building Technologies Office.
Down to Cook – Neutral Deal (Food and Agriculture)
Plant-based meat alternatives are trending thanks to consumers’ increased interest in health and environmental concerns. Unfortunately, many companies only succeed in selling their products by offering alternatives that are high in fat and ultimately unhealthy. To solve this problem, Down to Cook makes nutritious plant-based ground meat alternatives that use fresh vegetables. The flagship product of Down to Cook, Adda Veggie, combines plant protein and a crisp, chewy texture to make nutritional meals. Down to Cook generated $250,000 in year-to-date revenue in 2021 reported 10x growth from 2020.
Boaz Bikes – (Transportation)
The average vehicle produces 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide every year. Meanwhile, electric scooters produce no carbon dioxide and contribute little to nothing to climate change. Boaz Bikes is an electric scooter rental company focused on safety. The scooters have a state-of-the-art design and come with batteries that can be swapped out in less than a minute, which is much faster than taking scooters home to charge. Boaz Bikes’ revenue per ride surpassed its competitors’ in 2021, and year-over-year revenue grew 319%. Unlike other companies, Boaz Bikes places its product in lower-income zones to give minority residents of these areas an equal opportunity for scooter transportation.
Construction sites produce harmful pollutants such as chemicals, dust, and waste. In order for construction projects to be respectful of the environment, pollution and waste management issues must be included in the project’s designs. Summit Environmental Contractors is an environmental consulting and contracting company that helps to solve infrastructure pollution challenges. The business works directly with public agencies and infrastructure contractors from project design to waste recycling and treatment. In 2020, the company generated more than $3 million in revenue.
The construction sector is part of the climate change problem. NecoTECH wants to be part of the solution. The company creates sustainable infrastructure using recycled waste materials. NecoTECH’s products include its award-winning Robotic Maintenance Vehicle for sealing cracks), asphalt made of recycled polymer, Hot Patch On Demand for quick pothole solutions, and a concrete that captures carbon. NecoTECH products are proven in military applications and have been awarded six Air Force contracts.
The US residential sector makes up 21% of the country’s total energy consumption. And vacation housing is an addition to the impact of infrastructure. To lower the impact of tourism, Aashna designs and operates eco-rentals and wellness hospitality platforms. The company uses technology to reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions, and its platforms are powered by renewable energy. The platform offers access to wellness, community, and sustainable living options where members can visit, work, and play. The first location of Aashna is getting ready to open in Asheville, North Carolina, with seven to nine months until occupancy.
There are about 1.6 million nonprofits in the United States. Some struggle to find volunteers, and some volunteers do not know how to help in their areas of interest. Civic is a social platform that connects people to causes and helps them make a difference in the community. Civic is the world’s only social network for civic engagement, where people can find events, connect with a cause, discuss and engage, and donate.
The Black Lives Matter movement highlights the killings of unarmed Black people by the police. Indeed, Black Americans are killed at a disproportionate rate. Legal Equalizer has developed an app that makes encounters with law enforcement safer for everybody. The app provides a mobile platform to protect, educate, and connect users with legal assistance in real time. Legal Equalizer has had more than 350,000 downloads and has 215,000 registered users.
Health & Medicine
More than 50 million people in the US today are addicted to nicotine and tobacco products, including cigarettes. Hale Therapeutics has developed a proprietary medical vaporizer and mobile app that helps smokers quit nicotine more easily. The dual-capsule solution of Hale Therapeutics is designed to gradually wean people off of nicotine with minimum withdrawal symptoms. The company will be soon testing its product in the UK.
Home battery systems help homeowners to power their homes during power outages and store solar electricity to use at night. Unfortunately, most battery systems require upfront investments of up to $15,000 that many homeowners cannot afford. Next Bolt is developing the first affordable home energy storage battery. The battery will be sold for as little as a recurring $100 every month and will be fit for powering homes, commercial needs, the solar industry, and electric vehicle charging. The batteries are made out of lithium instead of sodium. Clients can install them by themselves and easily remove them.
In many parts of the world, plastic waste isn’t collected or recycled. It ends up in landfills and rivers and contributes to the 14 million tons of plastic that end up in the ocean every year. Zero Carbon is working on bringing the smallest waste-to-hydrogen-energy device to the market. The technology will help to reuse plastic and other wastes and produce a clean fuel. Zero Carbon’s space technology is developed by Fraunhofer Institute IKTS of Germany and is cost-effective and easy to operate.
Air travel contributes more than 1 billion ton of carbon dioxide to global emissions every year, and most emissions are produced during takeoff and landing. Private jets typically transport less passengers than commercial airplanes, increasing the amount of emissions per passenger. Feather Fuels is focused on reversing climate change and making jet air travel more sustainable. The solutions of Feather Fuels pull carbon dioxide from the sky and recycle it into carbon-neutral jet fuel. Feather Fuels is creating synthetic aviation fuel, Feather, using air, water, and clean energy, and the company aims to disrupt the long-haul aviation industry.
Most portable generators run on gasoline. They are easy to use, but they are also noisy, polluting, and expensive in the long run. New Use Energy is replacing fossil fuel generators with mobile solar solutions, including solar trailers and ultra-portable PowerPacs. The company’s solar panels can be installed on tents. It also partnered with Footprint Project to use repurposed solar panels with its Sunkit battery product and help underserved communities afford solar panels. New Use Energy’s solutions find uses in disaster response, construction, telecommunications, and events.
Children with special needs often have more difficulties making friends than others. Parents may also often feel isolated due to the extra care they need to provide to their child. To overcome these social barriers, PeerKnect built an app to enhance friendships and social connections for children with special needs and reduce their isolation. Other children’s and parents’ identities are verified on the app for safety, and parents can easily schedule playdates. PeerKnect also allows parents and caretakers of children with special needs to connect with other parents and therapists, and it assists them in achieving goals.
While families want the best funeral for their loved ones, many funerals are a source of pollution. Millions of trees are cut to build coffins, dangerous chemicals are used during the embalming process, and cremations emit harmful fumes into the atmosphere. Return Home offers an end-of-life service that transforms the human body into soil after death. The business uses a proprietary process called Terramation as an innovative and environmentally positive alternative to traditional death care. Return Home opened its first Terramation facility in June 2021, and the process has been allowed in a few states, including California, New York, Illinois, and Massachusetts.
Water sprinklers are commonly used by US homeowners to keep their yards green. But most sprinklers waste up to 50% of the water they use through evaporation and poor area targeting. Irrigreen has developed a revolutionary water sprinkler system that helps save 50% more water than traditional systems. The Digital Sprinkler Head of Irrigreen spreads water according to the shape of the landscaping, eliminating waste. The company has reported more than 300 installations since its product launch.
Morty’s Bark and Brew is an innovative indoor and outdoor dog park with a dog playground. The park allows dog owners to spend quality time with their dogs and friends, regardless of the weather. The company donates part of its merchandise sales to two non-profit organizations, one caring for retired First Responder dogs and another focused on rescuing and fostering dogs.
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About: Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau
Léa is passionate about impact investing and sustainability. Prior to KingsCrowd, she worked for Stanford’s accelerator, StartX, helping to select the most promising entrepreneurs. She also led the first award-winning study on the Malawian startup ecosystem. In her free-time, she volunteers to help entrepreneurs in Cameroon, Brazil and Colombia. Léa holds a degree in Anthropology from France and is currently enrolled in the UC Davis MBA program.